History and Heritage

History of Pantteg Chapel, Ystalyfera

The History of Pantteg Chapel was translated into English by the late Brynmor Jonathan, and is presented in memory of Mr. David Aneurin Griffiths, B.A. for 53 years a Deacon and the Secretary of Pantteg Chapel.

Pantteg Chapel was constructed as a result of a community voluntary effort, with Fleming Gough leasing the land on a 999 year lease for a notional rent, and many future chapel members giving their time and expertise for free. The chapel was inaugurated over the 13th and 14th May 1821 and named Y Pantteg by Reverend John Davies of Alltwen. Apparently the founders of Pantteg had already chosen a different name, but what it was is now lost to history.

The history of Pantteg Chapel, Ystalyfera, can be downloaded by clicking this link. In some browsers right-click and choose 'Save link as'. The document is in PDF format and requires Adobe Acrobat to read; this program is installed on most computers, if you do not have it, you can download it for free.

Initially, it appears that the founders of the chapel intended it to be used by various different congregations in the area, but after a petition by some of the younger members it was agreed to register it as a church in its own right. Reverend Phillip Griffiths accepted their request to become its minister, at the same time agreeing to succeed John Davies at Alltwen, and subsequently it was agreed that both churches would share one ministry. The church was then registered at the Archbishop's court in late 1822.

After a leading member of the congregation died in 1824, expressing a wish to be buried by the chapel, Pantteg bought an additional amount of land and registered as a burial ground. A school-house was built in the mid 1830s, so that non-Conformist children would not be overly influenced by Church of England schools, and in 1838 Pantteg registered their chapel for marriage ceremonies.

By 1841 it was decided that the existing chapel was too small, the congregation sometimes numbering several hundred, and after examining the possibility of extending the existing chapel it was decided to build a new one at the same site. This second chapel was opened in October 1842, and in 1846 the older chapel was converted into domestic premises and a reading rooom on the ground floor, and a schoolroom in the newly-erected loft. The old schoolhouse was at this time converted into dwellings.

In 1864-65 the decision was made to build a new and larger chapel in place of the old chapel. By this time, Pantteg was regularly getting several hundred people to its services, had a registered membership of around 500, and had helped in the establishment of satellite churches and sunday schools at Gurnos Chapel, Ystalyfera, and in Godrergraig.

1865 also saw the resignation of Phillip Griffiths as Minister of Pantteg Chapel, after a ministry of 43 years; he was now 73 years of age, and no doubt this was a large contributing factor to his resignation.

The Rev. Phillip Griffiths

Following the Reverend Phillip Griffiths' departure in November 1865, the Reverend John Jenkins commenced his ministry in the Summer of 1866. Aged 33 when he arrived, his period in office saw the deadly cholera outbreak of 1866, and the deaths of many local people. He left at the end of 1868, after falling out with elements of the congregation over a number of things.

The Reverend Trefor Jones arrived at the beginning of October 1870 to take over. He had previously served chapels in Montgomeryshire, and his ordination services were held in February 1871. His ministry saw the clearance of the chapel's debt, and the raising of more money to cover the painting of the chapel. The Reverend Trefor Jones gave his notice in the latter part of 1887, delivering his final sermon on the last Sunday in February 1888, whereafter he became minister of Gwernllwyn, Dowlais.

Pantteg Chapel did not have a minister of its own for 3 years following the departure of the Reverend R Trefor Jones. During this time, as was the practice, many visiting preachers would occupy the pulpit. One of these was the Reverend Ben Davies, and he would later receive a call from the members of Pantteg, taking up his duties on February 1st 1891.

The Rev Ben Davies was only 26 years old when he was ordained, but proved a powerful and lively preacher of sermons, soon adding many members to the congregation of Pantteg Chapel, 111 in the first year alone. This growth in the congregation made the chapel again begin to seem too small.

In 1891 the vestry, which had been the original chapel, albeit altered in 1846, was again renovated, being well used for weekday services and as a Sunday school.

Following a consultation during 1896 and 1897 the decision was reached to build a fourth incarnation of the chapel in Pantteg. The last service in the existing chapel was on the night of Sunday 10th October 1897 and the pulling down of the building commenced on the following Monday. The cost of constructing the new chapel was £4000. The first service in the new chapel was held on the morning of Sunday 13th August 1899, with the official opening services taking place over Saturday, Sunday and Monday the 19th, 20th, and 21st August.

During the construction of the new chapel, services had been held both in the renovated vestry and in the School Room in Godre'rgraig. This latter occurrence had led some residents of Godre'rgraig to see the need for a new chapel in their own locality, especially after the Religious Revival of 1904. Thus Godre'rgraig Independent Chapel was erected on the site of the Old School Room and the new church formed on January 6th 1906 as a separate entity from Pantteg.

The Reverend Ben Davies had apparently intended to stay for four or five years when he came to the chapel in 1891. He was still there thirty years later in 1921.

Pantteg Chapel in the Llais

The Labour Voice newspaper of June 3rd 1939 recorded that the chamber for the new organ had been constructed and that the new organ itself would be installed over the coming month:-


Services were resumed at Pantteg Chapel for the first time since the installation of the chamber for the organ last Sunday, when the Rev Llewely Davies, Bethlehem Chapel, Abercrave, was the preacher. The chamber is now complete, and it is anticipated that the organ will be installed within a month.

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